SWEET 16: SOME GOLDEN NUGGETS OF GUN SAFETY
(1) Always keep the muzzle of the gun pointed in a safe direction. The most common method is pointed downward and away from the body and possible companions or held over the shoulder, muzzle pointed upwards, magazine removed. Never point a firearm at anything you do not want to shoot legally. That means no pointing a gun at friends, no brandishing a weapon in traffic or during an argument, etc.
(2) Treat every firearm as if it were loaded, and could possibly go off (discharge). Do not touch any unattended weapon. Look for visible indicators such as a red dot on the safety lever, a smoking barrel, a loaded chamber indicator or such, to tell if the gun is armed. Never look down the barrel of a gun to inspect it, rather look from the breech area or use a bore light or bore brush to verify an unobstructed barrel.
(3) Keep your finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until ready to fire. This is called Trigger Discipline or Trigger etiquette and the #1 solution to accidental discharges. Keep your finger pointed straight, with your trigger finger resting on the side of the frame/receiver.
(4) Always make sure that the gun is unloaded when not in use, or in between games or drills. The magazine should be taken out and the chamber cleared of loose rounds. Double check this in the ‘hold open’ position with the slide stop, or open/broken cylinder/action. Clean and lubricate the weapon before storing, to maintain proper function and handling, and to extend the life of the weapon.
(5) Use your protective gear, have an emergency/safety kit and a plan. When engaged in shooting activity, use your shooting glasses, ear mufflers, goggles/mask & possibly shooting gloves. Ask observers and other operators to do the same. Always have a first aid kit handy. Always wash hands thoroughly after shooting to avoid lead contamination which can lead to birth defects and other health issues.
(6) Avoid alcohol, medication and drugs before, while using and preferably shortly after using a firearm. They do not mix. Smoking while using a gun is also very deadly, and alcohol/drug induced impaired judgment can cause extremely deadly thoughts, actions and habits.
(7) Store firearms and ammunition safely and separately. That means in a lockable gun bag or hard case, or use a cable gun lock, trigger lock, or store your gun/s in a steel safe, in a locked drawer etc. Store ammunition in a (preferably fireproof) container, away from the guns.
(8) Be sure that the barrel and action are not obstructed with debris or other blockages, and make sure that only the proper ammunition for that weapon is used. Failure to do so can result in injury, death and destruction of the weapon, and voiding of any manufacturers warranties.
(9) Read the operating manual properly. EVERY weapon model functions differently, and one’s knowledge of one weapon does not guarantee familiarity with another. It is critical to know and understand the weapon well before attempting to shoot, assemble or disassemble it.
(10) Be sure of your target and what is beyond it (the backstop). It is always possible to miss ones target and hit an innocent person or object beyond it. Use good judgment in estimating size, speed and distance of the target. Never shoot blind, or around corners. ONLY shoot when you have good target acquisition and a high probability of hitting the target safely.
(11) Never climb a fence, tree or table (or jump over a ditch or through a window) while carrying a loaded firearm. Also, do not throw a firearm at (or to) someone. It may fall and discharge with serious injury or death. This is called an accidental discharge.
(12) Never shoot at a hard surface like a wall, or at a body of water like a lake or a pond. This may cause ricochet that may also travel very far (or unusually) and strike innocent bystanders or unintended property. Bullets may easily penetrate walls, floors, cars and doors.
(13) Never handle a gun while emotionally or physically distressed. Fear, rage, excitement and anxiety can cause an adrenaline rush, light-headedness and paranoia, resulting in loss of perception, exhaustion and reflex trigger squeeze (by unintentional clenching of the hand).
(14) NEVER take your guns to school, to church or other family and docile gatherings. It does not matter if it is a real gun, AirSoft gun, blank firing gun, flare gun, or a non-firing replica. It is often difficult to distinguish a real gun from a fake one, even at seemingly short distances.
(15) Talk to youth about gun safety and handling. Do not scare or reprimand people about their curiosity about guns. It only fans the flames of their curiosity. A ‘blanket prohibition’ is the banning (or avoiding) of any talk, references or images of guns – and can lead a person to discover guns by themselves, often with fatal results. Teach children how to shoot with AirSoft or bb guns BEFORE handling real steel.
(16) Take responsibility for your own actions and integrity, DO NOT LOAN, or sell your guns to friends without proper registration and documentation. People can commit serious crimes with weapons, some of which are then traced to ignorant or innocent owners.
Take a formal course in Gun Safety. There are both paid and free gun safety courses all over the country. Proper knowledge of the form and function of a gun can help save lives and prevent very common accidents. Look online for a FREE gun safety class & complete one.